Do I believe in past lives? A qualified ‘yes.’ While I do think part of our soul path includes lives spent on this earth school, it is not essential to my core beliefs, that which I believe to be the eternal in us. If, after I die, during the debriefing process, the border agent says, “Sorry, Mary Jo, there’s no such thing as reincarnation,” I’ll probably groan with disappointment and say, “Really!!” But for now, past lives makes tremendous sense to me. Why waste a good planet? The earth is a perfect learning environment, a very tough school…good thing it’s pretty. And our dreams certainly seem to support there being past lives. Many of us have dreams where we are in an unfamiliar foreign land, an unfamiliar era, wearing clothes from that time. In dreamwork we call these ‘regressive dreams’ meaning this may be a dream of a past life.
My own dreams often take place in the Spain of another era. Most recently, in a dream, I was watching a conversation between a nun and two of her male teachers, a nun who, in order to not feel her pain, is speaking not from her heart but from her mind. The main teacher knows this, tells her to stop talking and asks the nun, “How did this all happen? Tell me all the places where mistakes were made.” The nun sighs and answers him, “It all started back in Spain.” My dream practice moment, where post session I feel into a poignant moment in the dream, is to be that nun feeling the lost connection to her student self, her soul self, and the resultant pain of speaking from her head versus her heart. I want to bring in here how both our dreams and our waking realities can ask us to consider past lives. Although I’m not Spanish, I became a Spanish teacher, uncharacteristically learning the language quickly, always feeling an inexplicable love for all things Spanish. As a little girl, I wanted to be not just a nun, but a cloistered nun. Both my outer and inner experiences point to Spain and its influence on my psyche. What follows is a past life remembering I experienced. If it wasn’t that’s okay, too…the border agent will break the news to me.
My first trip to Spain was in 1987, at the age of 37, with a group of high school students, and I was afraid that Spain wouldn’t meet my expectations. Getting off the plane in Malagá, in southern Spain, I teared up…I had come home. By day three, with a busy schedule, I hadn’t had time to meditate so I got up very early one morning. In the silence of my meditation a quiet voice came in strongly…‘today you will see where you were a nun.’ Huh… That day we were traveling to the white cities, so named for their beautiful cobbled streets and bougainvillea laden homes. I had forgotten my morning mediation until Vicki, my fellow teacher, announced to the kids, “Today, in Ronda, we’re going to see a famous Carmelite convent.” Oh, wow, this is exciting; I’ll see where I was a nun. The day unfolded. Hours later, on the tour bus she said, “We’re behind schedule so if you look down the street you’ll see the tower of the convent I was talking about.” So much for past life experiences…
We drove on to the ancient part of Ronda and walked through the streets. As we walked I noticed a wrought iron gate that led into a small courtyard. I don’t know what possessed me but I hung back from the group, opened the gate and stepped inside. I ‘recognized’ the sweet courtyard, the narrow Spanish-tiled stairs that led to the interior, knew somehow I had died there. I stood there crying, overwhelmed with tenderness and grief I couldn’t explain. After a few moments, I stepped back out and closed the gate. Vicki was coming back to find me. She asked, “What were you doing in there?” I made some excuse, said I was curious. She said that the tour guide saw me go in and told her that this was now a private home but that it used to be the Convent of Poor Clare’s, a cloistered order of nuns, that only left the convent to go the short distance to the old bullring to tend to wounded soldiers laid out there.
Mary Jo Heyen
Archetypal Dreamwork Practitioner
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